We know one thing to be true when it comes to Pacific-12 basketball this year: the NCAA tournament selection committee has to give an automatic bid to someone from the conference. As for who exactly that is, nobody seems sure after one of the few teams in the league that actually had a legitimate shot at an at-large bid was upset Thursday.
Washington, the top-seeded team in this week’s Pac-12 tournament, lost to No. 8 seed Oregon State, 86-84, on Thursday afternoon in a quarterfinal matchup in Los Angeles. The Huskies, and the Pac-12’s leadership, will now have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday to see if the conference earns a second bid to the NCAA tournament.
That’s what happens when your league is rated 10th in the RPI behind the likes of Conference USA, the Atlantic 10 and the Missouri Valley. Meanwhile, other leagues out west, like the West Coast Conference and the Mountain West Conference, are all but assured of at least two bids and perhaps more this season.
In Washington’s case, it will only have itself to blame. The Huskies also lost their regular season finale at UCLA, and combined with a dearth of quality nonconference wins throughout the Pac-12 this year, it probably means Coach Lorenzo Romar’s bunch is on the outside looking in when it comes to the bubble right now.
The Golden Bears have the best resume of the group, with a top 40 RPI ranking, but it’s not strong enough to withstand a loss to Stanford in a Pac-12 quarterfinal game Thursday night. Arizona has 21 wins, but the Wildcats are coming off of a crushing loss to woeful Arizona State to end the regular season and may need the automatic bid because of its poor RPI (No. 81).
Oregon could be the one positive-trending team in the league with Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph now in the lineup. The Ducks have won four straight and nine of their last 12, but like the whole conference, have no quality non-conference wins to its credit. If Oregon beats Colorado in the Pac-12 quarterfinals late Thursday night, a potential semifinal matchup with California would loom large for this conference’s shrinking NCAA tournament chances.
The way the Pac-12 has gone this year, though, it wouldn’t be shocking to see President Obama make an impromptu trip to Los Angeles this weekend when his brother-in-law, Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson, leads the Beavers on a run to the league’s automatic bid.